County Schools Show Improvement On State Report Card

November 12, 1991|By Dianne Williams Hayes | Dianne Williams Hayes,Staff writer

The county school system showed marked improvement over last year's dismal state report card, exceeding state standards in two categoriesand ranking satisfactory in four of 13 areas.

Last year, the county earned an excellent ranking only in elementary school promotion rates and a satisfactory score only in elementary attendance. Scores inthe remaining 11 areas did not meet state standards.

School systems were judged as excellent, satisfactory or not meeting the standards. Two sets of test scores were reported: students taking the test for the first time, usually in ninth or 10th grades, and students ending 11th grade.

State officials admit their standards are high; they say they are five-year standards not meant to be meton the first try.

This year, gains were made in 11th-grade functional reading exams, which earned an excellent ranking. Countywide, 99.7 percent of county students had passed the test by the end of theirjunior year; the state standard was 99 percent.

County schools were given satisfactory marks for math and writing. Only in the citizenship tests, where 96.1 of 11th-grade students passed the test, were state standards not met. To earn a satisfactory ranking, 97 percent would have had to pass.

By the end of their junior year, 93.6 percent had passed all four tests -- a satisfactory ranking.

Students ingrades one to six exceeded the state standard for promotion rates with 99.2 percent, compared to the state standard for excellence of 98 percent. Those same students ranked satisfactory for yearly attendance.

But the attendance rate for students in grades seven to 12 fellshort at 93 percent, with a state standard for excellence at 96 percent. The number was up, however, from last year's 92.4 percent.

The problem of continuing to meet state standards while trimming more than $10 million from the $341 million school budget has been raised repeatedly during budget hearings. Parents and members of the four unions representing school system employees have complained that the state continues to demand excellence while denying them pay raises. Those employees face four-day furloughs this year, as the school system struggles to save money.

Standards were not met on the Maryland Functional Tests for first-time takers in reading, mathematics, writing or citizenship.

In other areas of the report card:

* The dropout rate for grades nine to 12 improved, but did not meet state standards. This year's figure was 3.6 percent, compared to 5.9 percent last year. The state standard is 3 percent for satisfactory, 1.25 percent for excellent.

* Improvements were made in first-timers passing the Functional Math Test, which rose from 71.7 percent passing last year to 75.4 percent this year. But scores actually decreased for first-time takers of the Functional Exams in writing and citizenship.

* Passing scores for first-timers taking the writing test decreased to 79.9 percent, compared to 86 percent last year. Citizenship test passing rates fell to 69.8 percent, compared to 70.4 percent last year.

Since last year's report card was issued a year ago, county schoolshave adopted strict attendance policies and principals have made pleas to parents to send students to school.

This is the first year information on individual schools will be released, including test scores, attendance rates and demographic information. School Superintendent Larry L. Lorton and his staff plan a press conference for 1 p.m. today to release and discuss the reports.

Of metropolitan jurisdictions, Anne Arundel County fared better than Baltimore City, which ranked satisfactory only in 11th-grade functional reading scores. Baltimore County, Calvert, Carroll, Harford, Howard and Montgomery counties all met more state standards than Anne Arundel. Prince George's andAnne Arundel each met six of the 13 standards.

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